The Texas punk rock pipeline continues to gush with goodness! This time we head down to Dallas and say a big hello to the Lash Outs. And I’m guessing the Lash Outs would say hello right back to us, because they seem to be a hospitable bunch based on their fun, upbeat music. Their album Elation and Shame is one of the year’s best, and it’s right up my punk/powerpop alley. From start to finish, it’s an enjoyable and high-spirited ride that fuses frenetic energy with a sunny, unashamed poppiness. Most of their cited influences are either the usual suspects of the old school (Undertones, Buzzcocks, Adverts) or somewhat obscure power pop greats (Scruffs, Toms, Fast Cars). Yet the group doesn’t come off derivative in any way, and there’s something distinct and contemporary about these guys that has surely garnered them fans of all ages. Maybe it’s lead singer Joey’s smooth, almost crooner-ish vocals. Maybe it’s the clean, crisp production, well-honed harmonies, or slick guitar work. But there’s definitely something about the Lash Outs that keeps them from sounding like a copycat wanna-be ‘77 punk band (not that there’s anything wrong with that…). And I like that they write funny lyrics about everyday life and its inevitable frustrations. They won me over off the bat with the thundering Dictators guitars on opening track “Fruits of My Labor”, and from there it only gets better. “I Got a Fear” is one of my favorite songs of this year. It’s got a Green Day meets Pointed Sticks meet The Dickies sort of a vibe, and it’s just plain damn infectious! Ditto for “Contemporary Music”, which, as you might have guessed, is about the band’s feelings on contemporary music. Hint: they don’t like it. And I enjoy some of the band’s departures from the standard punk/powerpop formula. Because they have real pop chops, they come up winners when they slow the tempo down and really embrace those melodies and harmonies. “I Get Nervous”, largely because of the vocal stylings, has me thinking Smoking Popes. And when these fellows pick up the pace a notch or two or three, fun times result. In a purely good way, “Guilty Pleasures” has a modern pop-punk feel to it. It’s what “mall punk” would sound like if it didn’t suck balls.
One of the great under-the-radar surprises of the year - check out this band!